Why TikTok Is Probably Wrong About McDonald's 'Recession Apples'

The U.S. isn't officially in a recession, but inflation and rising costs have kept the likelihood of one front of mind. Individuals and companies are trying to save money wherever they can. And one social media user has called into question whether McDonald's is decreasing its portion sizes for that very reason. In a TikTok video from the end of June, its poster claims the number of McDonald's french fries in an order seems to be getting smaller. The creator then goes on to show a bag of McDonald's apples, pointing out that it contains just two slices. They refer to these as "recession apples," suggesting the restaurant is cutting corners by giving less food for the same (or even higher) prices.

Many commenters were quick to agree with this sentiment, with some noting that McDonald's prices have skyrocketed over the past year, even as sizes seem to be shrinking. Several confirmed that the chain's bag of apples historically contained more slices. "Nah there used to be 6 or 7 of them in there," one commenter wrote, while another added that "even in 2008 those had 4+ apples."

With customers spending hard-earned money on this side dish, it's no wonder they're disappointed to receive such small portions. It's also unsurprising consumers would focus on the financial aspect of this inconvenience. However, it seems like this has been happening for a while now — and it likely isn't a conscious choice by McDonald's employees.

McDonald's apple slices have been hit or miss for years

It's tempting to think the smaller number of apple slices in McDonald's offerings is due to a recession or corporate greed. However, it seems the fast-food chain has long struggled with this problem. The apples are packaged before being sent to individual stores, and the bags are probably filled at random or filled by weight (rather than according to the number of apple slices). Other customers have reported similar experiences to those of TikTokers, noting they've received fewer apples than expected in the past.

One customer posted a picture of another two-slice bag of apples on Reddit, while another Redditor shared that they'd gotten a three-slice portion with their Happy Meal. Both complaints date back to three years ago, in 2020, so this doesn't seem to be a new thing. Most likely, some McDonald's customers just get unlucky with their orders. Several comments on the "recession apples" TikTok seem to confirm this. One former employee of several years even wrote that they would "see bags with single apples all the time" while working there.

With so many consumers commenting on this phenomenon, it's surprising possible factory errors haven't been addressed. It's definitely disappointing to find just an apple or two in an order; it almost makes it more worthwhile to simply order fries.